Uber buys autonomous truck startup Otto


Startup company Otto will bolster Uber’s push towards self-driving vehicles

Otto ,-Startup ,-Uber ,-Truck ,-Autonomous ,-Trade Trucks

 

Autonomous trucking startup Otto has been bought by booming transportation company Uber in a move that it promises will improve the safety and feasibility of the freight industry.

In a blog post, Otto, an American company born from former Google, Apple, and Tesla engineers, says the 90-strong team will be "taking a leap forward by joining the Uber team."

"Together with Uber, we will create the future of commercial transportation: first, self-driving trucks that provide drivers unprecedented levels of safety; and second, a platform that matches truck drivers with the right load wherever they are," Otto says.

The startup first came onto the freight scene in May, announcing itself with an autonomous driving kit that could be fitted onto existing heavy vehicles.

While in trial stages, the technology has been equipped to a Volvo VNL 780 test truck and successfully taken on public highways in the US.

At the time, co-founders Anthony Levandowski and Lior Ron said they "intend to enhance the capabilities of the Otto truck, collect safety data to demonstrate its benefits, and bring this technology to every corner of the US highway system."

With the Uber agreement, Otto believes the dream can be hastened.

"By joining forces with Uber we can fast forward to the future," Otto says.

"Together, Otto and Uber can build the backbone of the rapidly-approaching self-driving freight system.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (left) with Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski.

"We can help make transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone, whether you’re talking people or packages."

Uber has seen global success on the back of its app-based approach to ride-sharing and public transportation, knowledge that Otto’s dream of smooth freight movement could see great benefit from.

For Uber, the self-driving knowledge is the jewel on the crown, as demonstrated by Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick‘s announcement of the agreement.

"If it sounds like a big deal – well, it is," he says. "When it comes to this advanced technology stack, Otto plus Uber is a dream team."

Speaking highly of Levandowski, Kalanick says the deal will see him lead Uber’s combined self-driving efforts across personal transportation, delivery and trucking.

"Anthony is one of the world’s leading autonomous engineers: his first invention, a self-driving motorcycle called Ghostrider, is now in the Smithsonian," Kalanick says.

"Just as important, Anthony is a prolific entrepreneur with a real sense of urgency."

Uber’s mission to produce self-driving vehicles will also involve Volvo, after the two companies signed a working partnership.

The "partnership is crucial to our self-driving strategy because Uber has no experience making cars," Kalanick says.

"By combining Uber’s self-driving technology with Volvo’s state-of-the art vehicles and safety technology, we’ll get to the future faster than going it alone."

 

  

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